Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald doesn’t know how many acres Leamington has of cannabis greenhouses but said there are about six cannabis operations built or under construction.
Neighbouring Kingsville is getting its first two cannabis greenhouses. Kingsville had four permits representing about 50 acres of greenhouses with a construction value of $73.6 million in 2019. The more complex cannabis greenhouse operations that are more expensive per acre to build are going in on Road 3.
Ontario has about 3,000 acres of vegetable greenhouses with most of that acreage in Essex County.
MacDonald doesn’t expect the growth will slow down. With weather extremes, the need for reliable and safe greenhouse-grown food will continue to increase, she said. “It’s going to be the food source of the future.”
Highway 77 north of Leamington has become a corridor of greenhouses, MacDonald said. “You’ve got people building 60 acres at a time. It’s incredible.”
MacDonald said Leamington welcomes the growth that includes businesses and jobs that support the greenhouse industry. She said it comes with some challenges since the town is “writing the playbook” as more cannabis greenhouses are added. “We know we have challenges but we know we are prepared to find solutions to those challenges.”